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Holiday Music Performance at Syracuse's Delaware Academy Combines Cultures

Jason Chen/WAER News

Children at Syracuse’s Delaware elementary school got into the holiday spirit Thursday afternoon.

Music director Vanessa Ryder said it was the first time staff members at the school joined children to create the sense of Delaware family through music. As a music teacher, she wants kids to love music and make it into a life skill.

“Music doesn't’ stop when you are done with school," Ryder said. "You can keep up with it throughout your adult life. There are many people that just stay with it and play it in their own way, whether it’s a community band, form a garage band or play in a church. I’m trying to teach the kids that music is a life skill. It’s not just something that you learn at school. This is something you could take with you for life. Once you learn it, no one can take away from you.”

Credit Jason Chen/WAER News
Thursday's celebration also incorporated some Puerto Rican music.

But Thursday celebration featured more than traditional Christmas songs.  The performance also incorporated some Puerto Rican music.

Delaware is a dual language school. Principal Eli Hernandez hopes by incorporating Puerto Rican music, kids can learn a different culture.

“We talked about being a dual language. And some of the things that we are trying to do are to make sure we are providing a bilingual program for all our kids," Hernandez said. "Even though it’s in the pre-K, Kindergarten, first and second grades. Third and fourth and fifth grades are technically not there. We have certainly a lot of Hispanic folks and we work very hard.”

Credit Jason Chen/WAER News
Kids at Delaware Academy played the violin.

Syracuse YWCA Executive Director Fanny Villarreal said the holiday concert is a good way to bring diversity and bilingual culture to Delaware.

“It’s through music and it’s through cultural exchange," Villarreal said. "It’s a lot of diverse things that we are trying to provide here at Delaware Academy because I think there is a lot of potential to raise these wonderful kids. You saw them singing, playing music. I think they see us participating and making sure that they know we love them.”

She added that it’s a reciprocal relationship. The school has made significant strides in involving parents in school activities and their child’s education, Villarreal said.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at